3 Steps to Establish Customer-Centric Call Centers in 2014

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In a survey conducted by Call Center IQ, 68% of executives confirmed plans to increase their customer service budgets in 2014.  Another survey from Aberdeen Group indicates that the top drivers of investing in customer experience management are improving customer retention (42%) and improving customer satisfaction (33%).

With customer-centricity increasingly becoming an area of focus for companies, managing the customer experience has never been more of a priority.  But many organizations are struggling in today’s business environment due to increased competition (i.e., if you neglect the quality of your customer service you will likely lose customers to your competitors) and a reliance on outdated operational models and strategies that do little to enhance the experience of today’s savvy customer.

To establish customer-centric call centers in 2014 (and beyond), here’s a look at 3 best practices:

1. Consider Your Customers: This may sound obvious, but customer-centricity begins with thinking like your customers.  What really matters to them?  What do they want?  What are their pain points and how can they best be addressed?

So how can you do this?  One way is to use real-time customer feedback to improve the customer experience.  With technology that can monitor customer conversations in real time and subsequently provide feedback to supervisors and customer service agents while calls are ongoing, organizations can actively listen to what customers have to say and strategically implement changes to put themselves ahead of the competition.  Nautilus, for example, implemented speech analytics and used the intelligence mined from phone calls to improve customer satisfaction and call center efficiency.

2. Consider Your Agents: The customer experience doesn’t begin and end with the customer.  Agent satisfaction is, in fact, critical to offering a better service experience to the customer.

To truly engage customers and drive business results, organizations must find ways to elevate agent engagement levels.  Examples include evaluating agent satisfaction metrics (i.e., agent satisfaction scores, questions to customers about the agent’s engagement/helpfulness/friendliness, measuring the attrition rate of agents, etc.).

“Satisfaction is [however] only one component of engagement,” claims Greg Levin of Intradiem.  “Fully engaged em­ployees are not only satisfied with their job, but also loyal to – and proud of – the organization for which they work. They are committed to its customers and its goals, and are inspired to drive change in hopes of helping the organization, and themselves, to continually improve and evolve.”

3. Focus on Customer Intimacy, Not Just Operational Efficiency: Many organizations view call center excellence in terms of efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction alone.  While these metrics have their place, they should not be viewed from a singular lens.

True customer intimacy involves not only developing an understanding of what customers view as important, as mentioned above, but also gathering and retaining information about them to lead to a more satisfying experience.  A 360-degree view of the customer can help “inform and guide the processes that help to maximize the customer experience, while simultaneously making the interaction as effective and efficient as possible,” according to Jonty Pearce from Call Centre Helper.

Final Thoughts

Call centers are often responsible for upholding the customer experience (for better or worse), making it critical for customer service agents to deliver the best possible experience to each and every caller.  The most customer-centric organizations focus on agents and customers alike, using key insights gathered from speech analytics and customer feedback to inform the customer experience as well as agent behavior.

Which best practices do you feel drive an improved customer experience?  Which metrics are important for customer-centric call centers?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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